Friday, February 1, 2013

Our First Big Project Gets Underway

We Are Creating Landforms

As I sit here assessing my week with ipads in my classroom (stuffy nose, slight headache, a few sniffles), I have learned three very important lessons: be flexible of lesson and how it can change everyday, hour and even by the minute, asking students how google docs can  help us with our project (they gave the answer I needed to hear) and sit back and just watch them be curators of their own learning. It was AMAZING and so powerful to know that our young generation CAN curate with mobile devices. These were my big AHA's for the week in the land of 21st century technologies. There are no limits to what students can do! So I continue my journey as a "designer" of lessons and not a "lesson planner". After what I have seen this week, the seemless integration of technologies with mobile devices, I am challenged to design lessons that will empower my students to continue their "thirst" for knowledge. So here is our first "big project" which is in science (their favorite subject) and the workflow of how it will all come together. 

The topic is Landforms. The apps that will be used are Doodle Buddy, Garage Band, Gmail, Keynote or Pages, haven't decided which one to use and Google Docs. I searched for a powerpoint on the internet for Landforms and found one that was already created by someone in 3rd grade. It was decent so I decided to download that on the desktop. I began going through the powerpoint showing them the various landforms that exist on our earth. Bilingual students need lots of support with vocabulary in science and math. So I thought this would be a good visual to introduce the lesson with the vocabulary terms. After reading each slide and discussing each landform, I told the kiddos that they were going to "design" their own Landforms using Doodle Buddy. Just hearing the name of the app got them all excited. So they began typing the name of the landform and drawing that landform on each page. This was the first time they had ever seen the app but what I saw as they were creating their drawing was AMAZING. Their little fingers were typing, drawing, erasing, using text features, choosing colors and even inserting the little "icons" onto their page that Doodle Buddy has for added features. My mouth dropped. There was no instruction needed from me and the level of engagement was high. I was sitting on a stool in the back of the room (my new post now) and just watched as they began taking ownership of that app and their learning. I had the powerpoint on the big screen so that they could see the landforms and one of my kiddos asked "why don't you share that PPT with us in google docs so that we can work at our own pace with each of the landforms?" Ding, ding, ding went a bell in my head. My response, "what a fabulous idea". So I created a group in google docs called Lackeysloopers for this specific reason at the beginning of the year to share documents, PPT's, etc. and I did just that. They opened up their gmail account on the ipad and noticed that I had shared the PPT with them. They had added me as a contact in their mail contacts using their gmail account (that's another lesson in itself) while our district tech trainer was in my room earlier that week. They opened it up and there it was. Everyone was working at their own pace in Doodle Buddy and swiping with four fingers as they went from the powerpoint back to Doodle Buddy....seemless integration happening right in front of my eyes.

When all the landforms were completed in Doodle Buddy, the students saved each one as a jpeg onto their camera roll. This was one of several options in Doodle Buddy. Here, they will be able to access them to insert into Keynote. They will record their text (description of each landform) in Garage Band and upload it into Keynote. They each wrote their text in their writing journal so they could practice reading about each landform. This will be our next task recording in Garage Band so this will take a couple weeks...well at least that's what I said the last time. Now here's the best part, during the time I was writing this post, my phone began to ring...someone was trying to facetime me but I did not recognize the number. So this text message appeared on the upper right hand corner of my laptop screen with one of my students name. I texted her back on my laptop after she identified herself and she called me again to facetime. We connected and she told me that since I was a contact on her contact list from a previous lesson that week, she wanted to try to connect with me on her ipod. Well she managed to do so all by herself. We didn't talk much as her mom entered the room for her to take a shower. You see, our students are applying that learning OUTSIDE the walls of my classroom. I'm sorry to have gone off topic but I felt that I needed to share this story as it validates my purpose for doing what I am doing today...empowering students for the 21st century! We will continue our project on Landforms and I will share the Garage Band and Keynote phase as we continue to build on it. They are in LOVE with Doodle Buddy and are already asking what our next science objective will be.....The Solar System coming soon!

Student who face timed me that night